(Pocket-lint) - With Windows 10 Microsoft worked hard to take the best features from Windows 7 and 8, while dumping a lot of what made Windows 8 so annoying.
While Windows 11 is on the way now, there are still a bunch of things worth knowing if you're a regular Windows 10 user.
What's going on with the Start menu?
Opening the Start Menu brings back the interactive Live Tiles from Metro in the traditional Windows (7 and prior) start menu - however, this has been toned down in later updates. You can still right-click any app here to resize, unpin, turn Live Tiles on or off, or uninstall outright.
Fortunately, if you happened to be a big fan of the Metro interface, you can still access it via the Action Centre icon in the lower right > activate tablet mode > Windows button in the lower left.
Windows 10 Action Centre
The Action Centre (accessible under the icon in the bottom right of the taskbar) serves as a hub for quite a few settings and features. Most notably - the list of actions that require your attention. You'll see updates for various apps here.
OneNote is quickly accessible here, and it reminds you that all notes are saved automatically. Settings and VPN settings can be accessed from here, as well as the Quiet Hours tile (presumably to use while you're reading or watching a video, as it will prevent any notification popups while active). You can also invoke Tablet Mode, Flight Mode or Night Light from here, among other things.
Microsoft's assistant is called Cortana. She's is present right in the taskbar, and can be used to search by saying "Hey, Cortana" when you enable the setting (also, it only works if you have a microphone). Like several other Windows 10 updates, Cortana has been de-prioritised in later updates.
To enable "Hey, Cortana", swipe from the right (or click the Notifications icon in the Windows 10 System Tray) to reveal the new Action Centre (Notifications), then tap the All Settings option. On the Settings screen, go to Cortana. From there, switch on the toggle for "Hey, Cortana".
Cortana can also show you the news, weather, local restaurants and so on. You can use Cortana to set up reminders for upcoming events as well, and sort by person, place, or time. If you set a time for the reminder, a window will pop up in the lower right corner and prompt you to snooze the event or mark it as complete.
Enable Cortana in Microsoft Edge
Cortana is integrated into the new browser, Microsoft Edge, as well. You can search right from the taskbar, and a variety of results will appear for either a web search or the app store. She handles all kinds of searches very well, and is able to bring up appropriate results for searches like "Netflix" (shows the app store first) or "Photos of Pluto" (opens up Edge and displays top recent images of Pluto).
Just click the Cortana search bar on the Windows taskbar, and then provide your name to set Cortana up. You can also ensure the feature is enabled by clicking/tapping the menu button in Edge, go to Settings, then selecting “View advanced settings” near the bottom of the pane, and toggling the "Get Cortana to assist me in Microsoft Edge" option.
Task view and multiple desktops
Multiple desktops are finally a part of Windows, which is extremely helpful in managing work and home windows especially.
Click the icon right next to the Cortana search bar to open it up - the one that looks like a large square with others behind it. You'll see the task view with all your currently open windows and each desktop you have open below. Click the "+" sign to the lower right to add a new desktop, and then drag windows to them to organise your workspaces.
Windows 10 shortcuts
There are a slew of new shortcuts with Windows 10. The most notable one are useful for having multiple windows open at once: use the windows key+directional keys (up, down, left, right) to snap each window to a different side of the screen, or even four quadrants.
Use Windows+Tab to open the task view/multiple desktops. Some of the shortcuts get a little intense, but you can use Windows+Control+ Left or Right to cycle through your current multiple desktops. Use Windows+Control+D to create a new desktop, and Windows+Control+F4 to close your currently open desktop.
Command Prompt options
Command prompt got some much-needed love in Windows 10, too. Just right-click the title bar to see properties, and you'll notice you can now use copy/paste short cuts in command prompt instead of retyping everything.
In Explorer, you'll see quick access. This will list the most commonly-visited folders, along with the standard set documents, downloads, pictures, etc.
If you've gotten tired of delaying updates by specific intervals in the past, that issue has been solved. You can now select a specific time to perform your updates all at once.
Tame your notifications
Under Settings > System, you can manage all your notification options in one place. Every single app can be disabled if you're just not a notification person, including the built-in things, such as Calendar and Cortana.